December 27, 2011


Master’s student
Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Kang Chang

Kang Chang

Kang Chang, research assistant at The Water Institute at UNC, writes:

I was raised in a typical suburban community. As I grew older, I became aware and concerned with the disparity in the quality of life of people around the world. This became evident through the types of questions people asked themselves. My questions revolved around

How should I best live my life? or What should I do to be happy? Others of my same age must ask How can I make money to pay for my mother’s medication? or Will this job pay enough so that I can send my children to school?

Chang hopes to reduce disparities between his life and that of this Cambodian boy.

Chang hopes to reduce disparities between his life and that of this Cambodian boy.

How is one to feel about these very different realities? I don’t know the answer. I do know that, by chance, I am part of a very small percentage of the global population with the advantages to respond to these inequalities.

I believe everyone should have the right to grow in an environment in which they can achieve to the best of their abilities. This is a distant dream for the current state of the world, but I believe it is a goal worth striving toward. Oftentimes, we are kept from the dream by environments that cause poor health outcomes or vulnerability to poor health outcomes. Improving water and sanitation is a cornerstone to basic public health. I am especially interested in the role of water, sanitation and health in economic development. My studies at UNC have allowed me the opportunity to begin bridging my knowledge gap so I might understand ways to develop proactive solutions to complex water and sanitation problems.

Extraordinary peers and eminent professors at this world-class public health institution have given value to my years at school beyond just the classes. UNC is a place in which I have taken a step closer to achieving my own potential. This experience is a gift and a call — giving me the opportunity to grow such that I, too, can help others achieve their potential.

Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit